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How my hometown became major smuggling route in Libya

Libya's interior has become a hub for human smugglers who utilize the uncontrolled roads to transport migrants wishing to travel to Europe by sea.
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Around 30 illegal migrants were killed when the pickup truck they were crowded into turned over on Feb. 14, southeast of my hometown of Bani Walid. The truck was carrying an estimated 150 migrants, most of whom were seriously or slightly injured and taken by volunteers and paramedics to the town’s only public hospital. While it is hard to confirm what happened, it has been reported that the majority of victims came from countries such as Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan. Unfortunately, this is not the first time migrants have died en route to Libya’s coast on the Mediterranean Sea, from where smugglers arrange sea trips to Southern Europe, particularly Italy. It will not be the last, either.

Over the last couple of years, Bani Walid — about 180 kilometers (111 miles) southwest of Tripoli — has become one of the preferred routes for human smugglers. Like most Libyan cities, the town lacks proper security and none of Libya’s two governments have any real control, let alone are able to reinforce security. Combating illegal immigration has not been a priority of Libya since the 2011 civil war.

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